Canyon Road Tea House in a different season
“Did you know Cindy Bellinger?” my husband asks.
We’re sitting at a table at Dulce having coffee and reading the paper, our Friday morning routine. I’m reading Pasatiempo and I look up, surprised.
“Yes, we met her at Larry’s signing. Why?”
“She died yesterday.”
“What?” I’m sure that in the noise of a bakery morning I misheard him.
“She passed away Thursday morning.” He holds up a page of the New Mexican, and I grab it.
A while back Jo-Ann Mapson and I were lamenting the lack of decent health insurance for starving writers like ourselves. We decided to start an association in hopes of getting a great group rate on insurance for our millions of soon-to-be members, and Jo-Ann came up with the perfect name…one we felt sure writers everywhere would identify with and flock to…Neurotic Writers of America.
Well, I mean, you do have to be a bit…um…unusual to be a writer.
What kind of person sits alone in a small office all day everyday, missing dentist appointments, letting her mother leave messages on voice mail, forgetting to eat lunch, ignoring the dog until she’s completely devoured the Tibetan rug? Answer: A writer.
December 13, 1942
On a winter day in 1942, 18-year-old Ruth Adrian and three girlfriends were spending the afternoon at the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco. While riding the Eugene Friend Carousel they spied a group of sailors. It being less than two months after Pearl Harbor, there were probably lots of sailors in San Francisco waiting to ship out to the Pacific. This particular group happened to include a young Texan named Doug Huggins who had been on the USS St. Louis, survived to tell about it, and was in San Francisco waiting for his next assignment.
My friend Marie Schnelle took this shot and used it for her New Year’s greeting.
While helping my parents clean out their attic last summer, I discovered a shoebox full of my old photos, greeting cards, and a five-year diary. If you’re a woman of a certain age, you’ll recall the kind of diary I’m talking about…fake leather with fake gold embossing and a small lock with a flimsy key that might or might not deter a younger brother. Every one of my friends in high school had one of these books. Some even wrote in them.
Henry James believed “Summer afternoon” to be the two most beautiful words in the English language. He believed it so strongly that he said it twice.
Well, summer afternoons are indeed wondrous, but I think I have a serious contender for the title of two most beautiful words:
It’s that time of year in New Mexico. My friend Jo-Ann and I got up early yesterday morning and went to The Station for coffee and then wandered down through the railyard to the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. We bought too much stuff, as usual…fat red radishes, a bouquet of oak leaf lettuce, perfect snow peas, a new (to me) variety of apple called Wolf River that I haven’t tried yet, blackberries that are so plump and ripe I’ll probably be forced to eat them in the next two days.
Houston, Texas 1978. Or possibly 1979. My RAM isn’t what it used to be.
Shake and me
I was mourning a failed marriage, sharing an apartment with a friend in the Montrose, an area best described as “awaiting gentrification.” It was affordable and convenient to the Delta Airlines reservations office where we both worked, but perhaps the best thing about it was its proximity to several small funky bars where there was good live music several nights a week. This was in the heyday of urban cowboys and the Austin sound, and there were lots of talented kickers schlepping their guitars around Texas.
photo by KK Marais
One of the interesting things about being a writer is the way you’re always finding stuff. Stuff you wrote years or months or (as I get older) days ago that you don’t remember writing. Stuff you’ve hidden from yourself for whatever reason.
Not long ago I unearthed three pages that caused me to rewrite the entire manuscript of my newest novel. Today I stumbled upon this piece I wrote almost fifteen years ago after a dear friend attempted suicide. It brought back a lot of memories.
If I’m ever on Death Row, I want my last meal brought in from Cotham’s Mercantile.
Cotham’s is a café on Highway 161 in Scott, Arkansas, about thirty minutes south of Little Rock. Geoff and I discovered it at the tail end of our Christmas road trip on our way back to New Mexico from Asheville (his mom) and Atlanta (my parents.)I wish we’d discovered it on our way east, because then we could have eaten there twice. It’s that good.
Once upon a time, long, long ago (so long ago that I was a sophomore in college) I was home for winter break—then known quaintly as Christmas vacation—when I found a recipe for pumpkin cookies in Glamour Magazine…of all unlikely places. It was just a tiny sidebar, sandwiched between articles on what to wear to holiday parties and the latest hairstyles, but the cookies sounded so good…I dashed to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, commandeered my mother’s kitchen and whipped up a batch.
Yesterday I read a blog post by my friend Kathy MacDonald who lives near Vancouver, BC. Kathy was recently diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, and her doctor thought she might want to start a blog as a way of sorting out her thoughts and feelings about this news. She’s a neat woman, a good writer and she has a wicked wit, and as I read her latest post about having to give up her car, I started thinking about (among other things) my cars past and present.